JagWire reviews shopping districts
JagWire reviews restaurants, shops and attractions in Westport, Prairiefire, Town Center and Hawthorne Plaza
September 22, 2015
For those feeling stuck in the suburbs, Westport is a great escape full of great local businesses completely unique to Kansas City. There’s a variety of restaurants catering to a variety of occasions, from casual lunch dates to high-end prom dinners.
Which Wich is a sandwich shop with a unique twist on a common, often-tedious routine — instead of standing over a counter pointing to what they want, customers first decide what kinds of meat they’d like and grab the corresponding bags. Then, they choose their veggies, cheeses and condiments, write their names on their bags and bring their bags to the register to pay. While they wait on their orders, customers can tune into whatever’s playing on the TV or choose from a wall of local periodicals. Although the value isn’t the best — $8 for just a small sandwich and medium drink — the atmosphere, friendly staff and good food make up for it.
Clothz Minded is a consignment shop fragrant with perfume and filled with trendy clothes. Although the store lacks in any real organizational system, putting forth a little extra effort could definitely result in some stylish, cheap finds. The pricing is reasonable, and shoppers can even bring in their own clothes to sell to the store. Overall, the store is best suited for open-minded shoppers on a budget who are willing to look a little harder for what they want.
Jeweled Gypsy is a Kansas City-based mobile jewelry store, also known as a “fashion truck.” The store’s products line the walls of its cramped quarters — everything from necklaces to rings and earrings — while the owners chat with prospective customers. The prices are a kind of high, but the beauty and quality of Jeweled Gypsy’s pieces are unquestionable.
The downfall of Prairiefire Art and Entertainment District is the limited selection of boutiques and stores at an affordable price for high school students. The atmosphere of the area, however, is of excellent quality, but Prairiefire needs further development if it’s looking to compete with other shopping centers.
The Art Factory
The Art Factory at Prairiefire allows hipsters the chance to perform hardcore slam poetry every other Thursday, with a $5 door charge. Inside lies a rugged, industrial-styled interior, with walls wrapped with contemporary art and artistic photography from local Kansas City artists. From the appearance of the institution, one could probably tell that The Art Factory is geared towards artistic individuals. The Art Factory is simply a cool hangout location where students can relax while viewing art or express their emotions through poetry.
American Museum of Natural History
A beacon, the American Museum of Natural History at Prairiefire is the main highlight of the relatively underdeveloped Prairiefire district. Standing out from other bland buildings in the area, the Museum at Prairiefire attracts the attention of audiences with its beautifully designed glass facade, making it a desirable location for prom pictures. Entering through the doors, the light shines in a various array of colors upon the imposing skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex located in the main hall. Unfortunately, the main hall is the only free exhibit at the museum and is limited in its content. In order to visit the exhibition gallery and discovery room, an all-access day pass can be purchased for $22. Expensive in price, the other exhibits at the Museum at Prairiefire also fall short at providing audiences with an interactive and memorable experience, mainly due to the small size of the complex. Although the interior of the museum is lacking in artifacts, the Museum at Prairiefire is a prime location to visit for those intrigued by beautiful architecture.
Town Center and Hawthorne Plaza
If the random trees in the middle of the sidewalk and the busy streets don’t bother you, then the Town Center and Hawthorne Plaza are nice places to shop. Most of the shops are fairly expensive and well over a high schooler’s budget, but it’s a nice place to window shop and get some exercise walking from place to place.
The Francesca’s at Town Center is a cute little boutique and clothing store with a wide variety of merchandise ranging from tall boots and long necklaces to decorated portable chargers. While Francesca’s is a chain company, each shop is unique in its own way. The large windows let in a nice amount of light and give the shop a peppy feeling, whereas the one in the Oak Park Mall feels more closed off. It is a generally well kept place and there is always something interesting to look at, but some of the clothing is a bit overpriced. Yet, there are also plenty of sales going on throughout the store. Francesca’s is more geared toward the ladies with necklaces, bracelets and shoes. It’s a quirky little place to walk through and look around in and not necessarily buy anything in.
Blue Chip Cookies
With a spunky environment, Blue Chip Cookies is a nice place to just stop by if you are ever in the area and in need of a quick picker-upper. The cost of a single cookie is around $1.50. It’s easy to step in, pick out a cookie from the 17 available choices, pay and enjoy the treat. From personal experience, it’s advised to get a drink of water after enjoying the cookie. Blue Chip Cookies also gives you the option to customize a cookie and even build an ice cream cone from 24 flavors to choose from. It has a energetic feel to it and has a nice view of the parking lot from the inside of the shop. Overall, Blue Chip Cookies is a relatively calm but not very spacious place to stop if you are craving something with a lot of sugar in it.
The Rice Gallery of Fine Art
While it isn’t necessarily a viable option to buy a piece of art from The Rice Gallery of Fine Art, it’s a nice place to pop in for a couple of minutes. A good majority of the artwork is Midwest themed, and most of the artists are local. In general, it’s a nice, quiet place to stop and look around. It is one of the only art galleries in the area. The way that the art is displayed on the walls in the middle of the room is nice and gives the gallery a flowy feeling. The wall in the very center of the gallery is known as the “Under $500 Wall” and features numbered art works and a list in the center of the wall giving the amount of money each painting is worth. In conclusion, it’s a neat place to step into, poke around and continue with your day.